Coaching & Leadership Development
How Heads can Overcome the “Imposter Syndrome”

How Heads can Overcome the “Imposter Syndrome”

  When I became a headteacher at 31, I knew little of the emotional and psychological complexities of the role and what I’d have to do to overcome them. 15 years after being told by my careers teacher that I’d amount to nothing more than a supermarket checkout girl, I became the headteacher of an inner-city primary school. To the outside world I appeared confident and happy, but internally it was a different story. Nearly every day I questioned myself – did I have the right to be here? Was my careers teacher right? Did I have what it took to be a headteacher? For more than a few headteachers, this is how imposter syndrome works. If they have previously had experiences that have caused them to question their self-worth, they can find it incredibly difficult to internalise their achievements once they’ve reached the pinnacle of their careers. As a result, they feel an array of emotions – guilt, shame, anxiety, fear and self-doubt, to name but a few. Without the right support, many heads will adopt behaviours that do little to address the root cause of their feelings. Instead, they will adopt coping strategies that only serve to exacerbate their feelings of inadequacy. As an executive coach for headteachers, I’ve found that one of the best ways to help school leaders overcome imposter syndrome is to help them consider their emotional and psychological challenges within the context of Maslow’s ‘Four Stages of Learning’ model. Maslow’s model helps us make sense of the emotional and cognitive processes that accompany new learning experiences – particularly those destabilising emotions and thoughts...
Why Every School Leader Needs Time out for Themselves

Why Every School Leader Needs Time out for Themselves

I know it isn’t easy, when you’re a school leader to put yourself first. I know because I have been there. The early mornings, the late nights, the lost weekends.   There were times when I cried out of sheer exhaustion and could find no way to make sense of the mayhem in my head. The demands upon me felt relentless and I mistakenly believed that the only way to meet those demands was by pushing my own needs to the back of the queue and putting everyone else’s first.   Now with the benefit of hindsight and the immense personal development journey that I have been on since leaving headship, I realise that this way of operating is neither healthy or productive. At some point everyone suffers. We may convince ourselves that this isn’t so, but deep down inside we know it’s true. Self-Sacrifice should not be the norm!   What saddens me most, is that in this present climate we have come to accept self sacrifice as the norm for school leaders. If there is a price to pay for high standards, it would seem that the diminished health and well being of our school leaders is seen as a fair exchange.   I think differently! It is too high a price to pay! You matter, your health matters, and you can only fully deliver on your vision for your school, if you are happy and healthy!   However, experience tells me that if you are a school leader, guilt often gets in the way of you taking time out for yourself. You worry about what other...